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How Brushing Your Teeth Can Actually Help Prevent Heart Disease

How Brushing Your Teeth Can Actually Help Prevent Heart Disease

Dr. Michael Layton
June 24, 2015

Heart disease comes in first place as the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. Heart disease encompasses a number of conditions that affect your heart including: heart arrhythmia, congenital heart failures and defects of the blood vessels in the heart.

Heart disease and cardiovascular disease are terms used interchangeably. Cardiovascular disease is indicative of the narrowing of the blocked blood vessels that result in heart attacks, angina and strokes. Any symptoms that result in the improper functioning of the heart muscles and valves are considered forms of heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease deaths are prevalent in Canada, Statistics Canada 2011 reported that there is a death every 7 minutes attributed to heart disease or stroke. In 2008 heart disease was responsible for 29 percent (69,703) of all deaths in Canada. The gender fatality numbers are almost equal for both sexes, 28 percent for males and 29.7 percent for females.

Types of Cardiovascular Disease

There are six types of cardiovascular disease types:


  • Ischemic heart disease. The most common type and most prominent in Canada. People with this form of disease have issues with their blood circulation sometimes caused by a partial blockage. Less oxygenated blood (ischemia) causes angina and shortness of breath. In 2008 in Canada 54 percent of deaths were attributed to ischemic heart disease, 20 percent to stroke and 23 percent due to heart attack with the root cause being heart disease.
  • Cerebrovascular disease. The layman’s word for this is a stroke. This entails problems with the circulation of blood to the brain. When a person experiences a blockage of more than 24 hours the medical term is called transient ischemic attack. Extended blockage of the blood vessels in the brain lead to a person experiencing a stroke.
  • Peripheral vascular disease. This form of heart disease affects the circulation of the legs, people with this disease commonly complain of pain in their calf muscles.
  • Atherosclerosis. The hardening and narrowing of the arteries. A major cause of heart attacks and strokes. Plaque buildup in arteries causes blood flow blockage resulting in less circulation throughout the body. Narrow and rigid coronary arteries are a major indicator of this form of heart disease.
  • Heart failure. Damaged heart muscles resulting from a heart attack, excessive imbibing of libations causes people to suffer from shallowness of breath and swelling of the lower extremities.
  • Rheumatic heart disease. Common among children in poor countries who have been subjected to rheumatic fever. Less common in Canada and other industrialized nations. Rheumatic fever is caused by the streptococcal (strep) bacterial infection. The best course of action for treatment is antibiotics and monthly injections to prevent this infection. This form of heart disease causes fibrosis in the heart valves leading to heart failure and mortality.
  • Congenital heart disease. This results from a birth defect or a small hole in the arterial or pulmonary walls of the heart.

Stats for heart disease in Canada is provided by Statistics Canada. Four out of six types of cardiovascular disease is preventable with the application of proper teeth brushing techniques, diet and regular exercise. The Heart and Stroke Foundation provides up to date statistics on heart disease in Canada. For dollar cost expenditures for heart and stroke prevention consult the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website.

In Canada strokes have led to 10,000 Canadians prematurely dying. Currently heart disease and its aftereffects strokes has led to 300,000 Canadians living with this disease. Smokers and heavy drinkers are at higher risks for diseases of the heart.

The Cost of Treating Heart Disease

The cost of treating heart disease in the U.S. in 2010 was $444 billion. This equates to $1 out of $6 dollars spent on health care being spent to battle this epidemic. The elderly, women and certain racial demographics are most at risk.

Cardiovascular diseases are 37% higher among black americans than caucasians.  Women have been shown to be at an increased risk for heart disease with more than 55,000 more women than men experiencing strokes.

The Dental Cause of Heart Disease

Periodontal disease is a major culprit that contributes to heart disease in people. Left untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontal disease. If left untreated stubborn plaque will spread below the gum line producing toxins that irritate the gums.

Toxins in the bloodstream create an inflammatory response within the body infecting the surrounding gum tissue that support the teeth causing them to become loose and fall out.

Small pockets of bacteria form in the space between the teeth and gums that become infected. In advanced cases teeth may have to be removed by a dental professional.

2 Types of Preventable Periodontitis

  • Aggressive periodontitis. Rapid tooth loss and oral bone tissue destruction.
  • Chronic periodontitis. Inflammation of the supporting gum tissue of the teeth and the degradation of bone tissue. Deep recesses and pocket formations in the gum tissue results in tissue and tooth loss.  This “silent killer” is often undetected by an individual as they believe that getting “long in the tooth” is a natural part of life. Nothing could be farther from the truth! This type of disease is totally preventable with regular routine dental care.

All is not lost, the good thing is you have the power to prevent heart disease by simply adhering to a regular flossing and teeth brushing routine. Preventing food particles from putrefying and creating bacteria in the mouth is the first step in any oral care  hygiene program. Flossing dislodges particles preventing them from forming into plaque and becoming gingivitis the mildest form of periodontal disease.

Regular Teeth Brushing Can Save Your Life

Brushing your teeth should be common sense for any child or adult. Keeping your mouth clean at all times prevents bacteria from taking a root hold. Preventing periodontal disease from starting is one of the easiest things in the world to deal with.

Not only will regular flossing, brushing your teeth and using an antiseptic mouthwash leave your mouth feeling clean and looking great you could potentially save your life.

Prevention is better than the cure

A little bit of prevention goes a long way, brushing your teeth is more than avoiding cavities. Spending $2 to $5 on a toothbrush is one of the easiest methods for avoiding the pain of heart disease and the fatalities that accompany this preventable dilemma.

About Dr. Michael Layton

Dr. Michael Layton - South Surrey Dentist, Dental ImplantsDr. Michael Layton (DDS) is the dentist for Peace Arch Dental, a dental office in the South Surrey/White Rock, B.C. area. He has been in the dental industry for the last decade and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. He takes pride in providing positive and caring dental solutions for people of every walk of life. You can follow him on Google+.

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